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The importance of Tiger Woods to golf

At a time when flashier sports like soccer and basketball seem to be capturing the minds of young Americans, golf has gone the way of baseball. Younger audiences find it too boring and unrelatable, not understanding the intricacies that make 18 holes so challenging. Now that star players have become all the more prominent in the media, it is important for fans to have an individual with which to identify or at least root for.

Despite youngsters like Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, and Jon Rahm bringing more youth and emotion to the game, golf has not had the appeal of other major sports over past years. That all has quickly changed in the past few months.

Tiger Woods, once the best golfer in the world, was forced to battle recurring back injuries from 2014 until late last year. These injuries forced him to miss most of the major tournaments and severely inhibited him in the tournaments he did participate in. But now, Woods is back (pun intended).

Woods has been electrifying but inconsistent over his past few appearances. He finished second at the recent PGA Championship, tied for fourth at the Quicken Loans National and tied for sixth at the Open Championship, but missed the cut at the US Open and finished tied for 31st at the Bridgestone Invitational--all in the span of two months. However, winning is no longer important at this stage of Woods’ career, at least not to those watching. Courses are erupting with cheers louder than ever before, and every birdie putt is an invitation to explode. Woods has breathed so much life back into the game that he once dominated, and though he is no longer at the same level, it matters all the same.

For, is it not unrealistic to expect Woods to compete for the prize every time out? He is 42 years old and has undergone seven surgeries for leg and back issues. Most players are 10-15 years younger and have no injury history, yet Woods still finds himself competing. It is not about where Woods finishes, it is simply the fact that he is out there, playing the sport he brought so much excitement to at the turn of the century.

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